By Rory Sharrock
For the second week in a row, Jonesboro's offense struggled to move the ball with any consistency, but its defense held strong and didn't allow the opposition to cross the goal line.
For the second week in a row, this formula proved to be a successful mixture as the Cardinals (4-2, 3-1) blanked cross-town neighbor Mt. Zion (4-3, 3-2) 14-0 at Tara Stadium.
"This is the same thing we've been doing," said Jonesboro head coach Clint Satterfield. "The games are going to be close. We're going to play defense. We're not used to being in this position. My hat's off to the defense."
Jonesboro's cast iron defense disrupted Mt. Zion's offensive flow as Bulldogs' quarterback Jarrel King's passes were off-line all night.
The junior signal caller faced pressure on almost every snap and tossed two interceptions in the contest, one of which led to the Cardinals' opening score.
"The staff and I got together and we decided this was the best way to go. I have to give it to the players and the coaches," said Cardinals' defensive coordinator Tim Floyd.
"It all came together and we made it work. We blitzed more than we normally do and I think that caught them (Mt. Zion) off guard. We usually sit back in the zone, but tonight (Thursday) we blitzed and played a lot of man coverage."
Midway through the first quarter, King threw an errant pass for his first turnover that sailed right into the hands of Contreze Pierce, which put the Cards in excellent field possession.
On the ensuing play, speedy running back Freddie Shannon took off for a 35-yard gain all the down to the 4-yard line.
Shannon was later rewarded for his skills as he posted a 2-yard touchdown run to give his squad a 7-0 lead.
The score would remained locked at 7-0 throughout the first half and all the way up to the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, Jonesboro added an extra cushion when wide receiver Jason Griffin displayed his phenomenal route running ability on a designed right-change hitch-and-go by burning his defender for a 22-yard touchdown reception and a 14-0 advantage.
"We were wondering what we were going to do because they were stopping our running game. Coach (Jamie Reed, offensive coordinator) said let's give it up to our favorite receiver. When my name was called, I stepped up and made it happen."
With the victory, Jonesboro secured consecutive wins for the first time this season.
It now moves into sole possession of second place in Region 4-AAAA, baring the outcome of Griffin's game with North Clayton Friday night.
"We worked as a team. We've been practicing hard all week.
We just give God thanks for everything he's done. It's a big win because it's like we're starting our playoffs right here," said senior linebacker Michael Carlysle.
Thursday's loss marks the second straight time Mt. Zion was held scoreless at Tara Stadium, including a 23-0 defeat versus North Clayton on Sept. 27.
"We're a team that doesn't understand the process of winning yet. We live on highs and lows and anybody who knows about living on highs and lows, you can't develop consistency," said Mt. Zion head coach Jarrett Laws.